Notre Dame: perfectly imperfect
Lucas Masin-Moyer | Friday, May 17, 2019
How do you move on from something you’ve spent your whole life looking forward to?
For most of my time at Notre Dame, it’s been a running joke among my friends that “Lucas has been a Notre Dame fan his whole life,” but honestly, it was much more than a fandom — it was a sometimes all-encompassing desire to one day come to South Bend.
Growing up, I had a big ND painted on my wall; I’ve been coming to games here every year since I was six — a streak unbroken even when I was abroad in Ireland — and in an interview at the end of high school about my experience with teachers and administrators, when they asked why I had done so many extracurriculars throughout my time, I had to regretfully inform them I did not, at the time I joined it, have a burning passion for Academic Decathlon, but that frankly, “I wanted to go to Notre Dame.” I think they appreciated the honesty.
So when I got to Notre Dame for the first time, I expected every moment to be great, and a lot of it was. In my first couple of weeks in South Bend, I watched Notre Dame take down Texas under the lights, attended lots of milkshake Masses, having far more wholesome Thursday nights than I would later in my college career — and, despite not finding a future spouse at Domerfest as I was told was the expectation, I made some of the best friends of my life that night, people who would walk with me through every up and down.
But it was in these inevitable downs that I always felt even worse, as if I was not living up to the expectations of four years of non-stop joy that I had always imagined my Notre Dame experience to be. And it wasn’t until I left Notre Dame for the first extended period of time since I arrived that I was able to shed these expectations.
In August of 2017, I sat in a park across the street from a run-down hostel of an old cobblestone street in Barcelona, crying and panicked under the single street lamp, calling my parents and talking to friends seeking refuge from the fear of being thousands of miles from home and the sadness of being away from Notre Dame.
The next day, still in a state of panic, I sought any activity that would bring me some sense of normalcy, and I found it in a traveling David Bowie exhibit that had made its way to the city. I was fully prepared to go there alone to calm down in the company of the music and memorabilia of one of my favorite musicians. But one of my friends — who frankly I don’t think had much of an interest in Bowie outside of my frequent rhapsodizing about his music — volunteered to ditch what the group was doing that day to join me. It was in that moment that I had a revelation about my college experience I should have long before.
Notre Dame wasn’t great because of the physical space it inhabited, though there are lots of great things about it. Notre Dame was great because of the people I had met there who would be by my side through it all. I realized in that moment, in one of the more imperfect moments of my life, that my Notre Dame experience didn’t have to be perfect as long as I had good moments, and people there to share the good times with.
It’s this realization that made my last three semesters at Notre Dame, though far from perfect — anyone who has read a story in this paper that I edited can tell you that — truly the best times of my life. And because I had these experiences, I am able to move on past them.
Because I had Notre Dame, through all its highs and lows, I am able to move past it.
That doesn’t mean I won’t miss my time here or lose love for Notre Dame (apologies to my future wife and children for all the plans I will surely blow off to watch football for 12 Saturdays every year), but by opening up to whatever experiences were presented to me here, I was able to look back on my time here with few regrets and fully enjoy it for what it was, not what I had imagined it to be.
Now of course this is a little disingenuous — I’ll be back here again in two weeks to start summer classes for ACE. I could never quite kick the desire to stick around here a little longer.
But I know that no matter how far I move away someday — in what is about to be one of the most cliche sentences I’ve ever written in this paper — Notre Dame will always be with me and no matter where all the friends I’ve made along the way go, whether it be in California or Colorado, Washington state or Washington, D.C., Kansas City or Eswatini, I know they’ll be there in some way or another.
Lucas Masin-Moyer is graduating with dual degrees in American studies and political science. Following a summer of classes, he will be teaching with Notre Dame’s ACE program, teaching fifth and sixth grades in Minneapolis. He thanks every single person who has made The Observer such a meaningful part of his experience at Notre Dame and can be contacted at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.